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Google Compare Shuts Down, Breathe - And Then Get Back To Work

Posted on February 26, 2016 by Guy Weismantel

 Digital Insurer Blog

Google Compare, the search giant's insurance lead generation engine, is on a month long ride into the sunset. Both the US and UK operations will be shuttered, and Google will be either pausing or terminating a number of strategic partnerships. Compare for Auto Insurance will limp into its first anniversary before the site goes dark. 

There are a few ways for the insurance industry to digest this news. Google may have “failed” at creating a self-serve insurance portal, but they’ve paved the way for dozens of new companies to enter into the industry; unleashing a wave of technology disruption that insurance providers have never encountered before. If you’re looking for a few examples, check out the 4 major “disruptors to watch” featured in our free E-book Digital Disruption and the Modern Insurer. But there’s one thing for sure, it’s that the wake created by Google’s entry (and by companies like Zenefits) will play on for years in our industry.

Agencies are due to breathe a sigh of relief, but they should not make the mistake of thinking disruption has gone away—on the contrary, like the Velociraptors of Jurassic Park, Google and other companies will learn from what went right and what went wrong and get smarter. As I remarked in an interview earlier this week, Uber didn’t start out by partnering with cities and regulators—they started out by fighting them—and where they couldn’t win, they adapted—that’s what smart technology companies and smart technologists and smart dinosaurs do—they learn and adapt.

Digital Disruption is Here to Stay

$2.2 billion has been invested in insurance technology startups in the last five years alone. Investments in insurance tech are up 10 times what they were in 2010.

In regards to Google. are they fully dead? Or only “mostly dead”—to coin a favorite phrase from The Princess Bride—they own Waze, they own driverless cars, they own in-car communication systems, and they sell ads to insurers—are we sure they’ve really excited the industry? Or are they doing what they’ve always done, which is to try and try and try and find the compelling angle to make a ton of money—my bet is on this. 

In residential real estate, for example, Realtor.com's Multiple Listings Service was the only viable internet destination to shop for residential real estate. In recent years, websites like Zillow, Trulia and ForSaleByOwner.com have emerged. 

In the transportation industry, there are the many Uber service offerings like UberX, UberXL and Uber Black Car. Car sharing company Zipcar was disrupting the car rental market, so Avis Rent-A-Car acquired it. There are leading banks like JP Morgan Chase that feel they need to "self-disrupt" before they are disrupted by something more viable than BitCoin. 

Partnerships at an End?

The Compare product, which was a relaunch of a previous program called Google Advisor, was said to have failed (in part) because it wasn't generating the advertising revenue and industry traction Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company was looking for. Many of Compare's existing advertisers will be transitioned to AdWords programs. 

Some Google Compare partners are reportedly shocked by Google's announcement, and a few deny their relationships at an end. The news shocked Compare.com CEO Andrew Rose, while Coverhound CEO Keith Moore says Google Compare is in a "retooling" mode, and it isn't going away all together. 

Google Compare

Are Insurance Producers Surviving on their Value-Add?

Again, many insurance agents are encouraged by the Google exit from the insurance industry. 

As I discussed in Insurance Journal earlier this week, the threat and brand equity that Google carries is enough to say, 'OK, I can breathe a little bit easier.' But there are still major players getting in, and other companies changing the way people think about insurance. 

Google has unleashed the force of creativity and investment in the industry, they accomplished what they wanted to in terms of disruption in the industry. People will learn from what Google went through, and don’t be surprised if there are tougher competitors that emerge.

Insurance agencies and producers provide value in their personalized recommendations to their clients of personalized plans; something a self-serve portal can't replicate. The value you provide to auto, life, travel and home insurance clients exceeds just quoting policies. 

Your value includes: 

1.    Ensuring clients are satisfied with the service they receive for claims handling and renewals

2.    Providing your customers and prospects with a clear understanding of both their protection and possible risks

3.    Managing your customer's data securely, and being responsive in their times of need

4.    Managing your customers across their life-cycle with your business means making a number of contacts in person, on the phone and online. Google Compare is/was just one example of insurance disruption which can take place.

You can avoid the erosion of your client base, and your agency's reputation by delivering a high level of client service, and by implementing technology solutions which empower your employees to exceed customer expectations.  

Have you encountered disruptors in the insurance industry, or other markets which we haven't mentioned here? How are you equipping your team to remain competitive in this economy? Tell us about it in the comments section.

To discuss ways of "self-disrupting" the way you leverage technology to do business, contact Vertafore today.

- Guy


Mr. Weismantel is the Vice President of Marketing at Vertafore. With 20 years of marketing and financial leadership in companies such as Microsoft, Business Objects, Baxter HealthCare, Caremark International, and Expedia, Guy’s career has focused on bringing differentiated products to market and providing the “compelling reason to purchase” for customers and prospects alike.


Guy has a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame, and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

 

 
 

 

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